[Biojava-l] How to use the RestrictionEnzyme/RestrictionEnzymeManager classes

Keith James kdj@sanger.ac.uk
26 Jul 2002 09:17:01 +0100

>>>>> "Sylvain" == Sylvain Foisy <sylvain.foisy@bioneq.qc.ca> writes:

    Sylvain> Hi, I would like to use these classes to digest Sequence
    Sylvain> objects. How would I do that? I tried to find something
    Sylvain> similar to Digest (proteomics class) but I could not find
    Sylvain> it. I would like to do a program like tacg that would
    Sylvain> produce digests but using frames.

Hi Sylvain,

Sounds cool. tacg is the king of RE programs - I have to warn you that
you won't get anywhere near its speed using BioJava.

The reason that these classes are a bit cryptic at the moment is that
I have only had enough spare time to write the enzyme/enzyme-manager
part. I have started on the RestrictionMapper (which will mark
recognition sites and cut sites on a Sequence as Features) but not
RestrictionDigest (which will cut a SymbolList into pieces using

[Technical note: in order to efficiently process many
RestrictionEnzymes at once the RestrictionMapper will need to be
configurably multithreaded - so I need to add a ThreadPool interface
(in case anyone wants to us a 3rd-party pool) and a SimpleThreadPool

Here is a re-post of the relevant part of my initial announcement on
this list. The key part for doing searches on a Sequence/SymbolList is
that you create a Java 1.4 CharSequence view of the SymbolList and
search that using a standard Java 1.4 regex Matcher using Patterns
(one forward strand/one reverse strand) obtained from a
RestrictionEnzyme instance (more detail below):



This class specifies restriction enzyme properties (recognition site,
cut site(s), type of end produced) and also returns regex Strings
suitable for finding forward and reverse strand recognition sites.

The constructors are public so that you can create custom enzymes, but
the main way to get instances is through the RestrictionEnzymeManager.


This class is allows you to get an enzyme by name, get all
isoschizomers of an enzyme by name, get all n-cutters and get a pair
of java.util.regex.Patterns for the forward and reverse strand
sites. There is a properties file
(RestrictionEnzymeManager.properties) which is loaded as a
ResourceBundle and tells the class where to find a REBASE file
(withrefm.### format, same format as used by EMBOSS program
rebaseextract - see REBASE site). I have not checked in a fallback
copy of REBASE - it's quite big and I wanted to get some feedback
first. Do we want the whole of a specific version of REBASE, or just a
subset of common enzymes? Anyone can override this by using their own
copy of REBASE and putting a new properties file in their CLASSPATH.

The part which is only partly implemented is searching. You can now
do searches using


This class is an implementation of the Java 1.4 interface
CharSequence. It wraps a SymbolList and allows full regex seaching of
any SymbolList whose Symbols can be tokenized to chars. It appears
that the regex Matcher does not call the subSequence or toString
methods, only charAt (which translates directly to symbolAt) so no
extra copies of a big sequence get made. You need to use the regex
engine in Java 1.4

Finally there's stuff to do:


Is not written. This will do the convenience stuff of spitting out
SymbolList products etc. It should probably be threaded to search
multiple enzymes (or at least both strands for one enzyme)

One thing I'm not clear on. Do we want "biologically correct"
cutting. That is, if my sequence has two different enzyme sites which
overlap and I do sequential digests, does the second fail to cut
because its site is now partly single-stranded, even though the regex
still matches on one strand? It seems the right way to me, but it may
not to to everyone.

In summary, you can currently do full ambiguity searches on both
strands with a bit of work.

1. Get a copy of REBASE format #31
2. Edit the RestrictionEnzymeManager.properties file to point to it

Do something like this:

RestrictionEnzyme ecoRI = RestrictionEnzymeManager.getEnzyme("EcoRI");
Pattern [] pat = RestrictionEnzymeManager.getPatterns(ecoRI);

CharSequence charSeq = new SymbolListCharSequence(mySymbolList);

Matcher forward = pat[0].matcher(charSeq);
Matcher reverse = pat[1].matcher(charSeq);

Then proceed to use the Matcher as normal. Right now the coordinate
you get back will be the start of the recognition site and you will
have to calculate the actual cut(s). There are methods in
RestrictionEnzyme which return the position(s) of the cut site in the
coordinate space of the recognition site SymbolList (there are some
freaky enzymes which cut both sides of their recognition site).


I have had no feedback on whether the digestion (i.e. where
SymbolLists are actually "cut" rather than annotated with Features)
should be biologically correct. This involves remembering the
positions of all single-stranded regions (3' or 5' overhangs) produced
by digestion such that followup digestion with another enzyme does not
cut where its recognition or cut site overlaps. This is probably only
important if we want to progress to full virtual cloning experiments.

In summary, you can currently use RestrictionEnzyme instances to
locate sites on a SymbolList using the Java regex package. I'm not
sure when the support classes for digestion will be ready - I'm kinda
busy right now. Probably 2 - 4 weeks.



- Keith James <kdj@sanger.ac.uk> bioinformatics programming support -
- Pathogen Sequencing Unit, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK -